Are Female Truckers the Only Way Out of the Driver Shortage?
With seemingly no other answer to the problem, some have turned to women to solve the ongoing issue of driver shortage. Female truckers however may encounter a different set of challenges from their male counterparts. Are we recognising the hurdles they face?
We can safely assume that the trucking industry is mainly dominated by men. For the minority women in the industry, taking the first step would inevitably be filled with doubts and nerves. As it is, trucking is not a job for everyone, regardless of man or woman, big or small, strong or weak.
There are however, some physical challenges that apply only to females compared to the opposite gender that makes it a tall order getting more females into the cab. With a lower average height and weight, the smaller and shorter stature makes it harder for women to reach the controls. Even though truck companies have started designing cab designs with females in mind and have made changes to make their trucks more female-friendly, i.e. changes to seats and pedals configuration, it was only in recent years that companies have begun doing so. Trucks used to be designed with men in mind, with their taller statures and bigger size. Climbing into the cab of a bigger rig can prove to be a challenge for more petite persons.
Although there are some physical challenges, companies are still looking to women to solve the issue of driver shortage. Research has shown that women drivers drive more cautiously and thus have a lower risk of having accidents while driving. This also goes hand in hand with the tendency to cause less vehicle damage. There have been instances where trainers thought women were easier to train as they were more engaged in the process and less likely to “get it right on their own”. Male drivers, on average have twice the number of crashes as women. They are more likely to be involved in crashes that occur on curves, in the dark or while passing other vehicles, according to a report by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, England. Women take fewer risks, therefore accidents involving women occur at slower speeds resulting in less damage to the equipment and most importantly, less loss of life.
But are we getting enough women to sign up to be truck drivers? The number of female truckers is still on the lower end of the scale. To begin with, the misconception that trucking is a male career is still prevalent. Many women do not think about it without uncommon prompting, such as growing up in a trucking family or marrying a trucker. Those who do consider the career may rule it out because they have doubts about what society will think of them or what the job will be like. They may worry about sexual harassment or discrimination in a male-dominated field, but there are many female truckers out there telling women to not let that stop them. It is a rewarding and enjoyable career, and all-in-all, being a female does not cause them much problem when performing their duties on the job.
Our Asian Trucker Drivers Club has been launched and members are signing up. Meanwhile, we have run the first events for our members. The subscription form is also available for download.